May 17, 2014
Saracens win bruising encounter
Saracens booked their spot in the Premiership Grand Final with a stunning 31-17 win over Harlequins in an absorbing game at Allianz Park.
Try scores for Saracens were Kelly Brown, Brad Barritt and Chris Ashton, as Saracens scored 20 unanswered points in a dominant second half display.
The first half was abrutal, bruising and played at an unrelenting pace. Not a quarter was taken, nor given at the gainline, as both sets of forwards met each other with a ferocity that a place at Twickenham Stadium demands.
For Saracens the usual suspects of Billy Vunipola, brother Mako and the permed haired marauder Jacques Burger were battling for supremacy only to be mate by the Quins’ Nick Easter, young buck Kyle Sinckler and England captain Chris Robshaw in an brilliant first 4o minutes in a warm and muggy May afternoon at Allianz Park.
It was the visitors who would score the first points of the contest, Nick Evans sending over fifth minute penalty after Saracens were penalised at the breakdown just left of their own posts.
Saracens though responded with two penalties from Owen Farrell, the first in the seventh minute then after hitting the posts with a penalty attempt in the tenth minute, Farrell was back in business with a well taken penalty kick after 17th minute.
If the game was a boxing match, then these two Premiership heavyweights had gone flat out for the opening two rounds. A lull in proceedings could then me excused, as Mike Brown and Nick Evans for Quins, and Alex Goode and Owen Farrell for Saracens kicked for field position.
The game though would take a twist via the pocket of referee Wayne Barnes as he sin-binned two Saracens players in quick succession, first in was Marcelo Bosch for a “dangerous” tackle then prop Matt Stevens for a deliberate knock down. With the two man advantage Quins finally crossed for the games opening try, Ugo Moyne the beneficiary of some clever Nick Evans vision.
Saracens though hit back, as Kelly Brown scorched over in the left hand corner with a finish an international centre would have been proud of. Farrell couldn’t add the extras as Sarries held a one point lead going into the closing stages of the half.
But then Quins hit back, a loose ball in the Saracens midfield was hacked on by Robshaw for Mike Brown to race on to score, Evans converted to give Quins a 11-17 lead at the break.
If Saracens were dispirited with the try before half time they sure didn’t show it as Mark McCall ‘s men, led by the inspirational Steve Borthwick, and back-rowers Kelly Brown and Billy Vunipola steamrolled the Quins in a second half showing that blitzed Conor O’Shea’s men.
The first ten minutes were dominated by Saracens profligacy in front of the goal-posts, as Owen Farrell and Marcelo Bosch both saw penalty attempts go wide. Harlequins rarely threatened, with only a Danny Care drop goal attempt hitting the sticks enough to worry the Saracens defence.
Then in the 51st minute Sarries struck; Brad Barritt (who was a colossus in the Saracens midfield all day) scuttled over for a try that seemed to knock the stuffing out of the away side. Farrell converted to give Saracens a one point lead. Soon after that lead would be extended to four, as Farrell found his rhythm to slot over another penalty.
Saracens were sniffing blood, and when Chris Ashton popped up on the impressive Kelly Browns right shoulder to race away to score the dye was cast. Farrell again converted as Saracens extended their lead to eleven as the casualty list for the visitors extended to England full-back Mike Brown.
Farrell added another penalty to make the scores 31-17 as Saracens closed out the game much to joy of the Saracens faithful at a sun-kissed Allianz Park.
Saracens now face the Northampton Saints in the Aviva Premiership final.